Recent policy changes involving the Griffin Police Department Traffic Unit have caught the attention of Rep. John Yates, who has, according to a letter forwarded to the Griffin Daily News, requested State Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker review the issue regarding the requirement that all officers assigned to this specialized unit write 20 citations per 10 hour shift.
“I just thought it should be cleared up,” Yates explained. “The legislators and the governor have the right to have an issue clarified by the attorney general if we see fit.”
Yates said he has received calls from those within his district expressing concern with what some have viewed as a quota system.
“I met with the chief and saw his viewpoint but I’ve also had quite a few constituents call me, upset, claiming this is a quota.”
GPD Chief Frank Strickland has disputed that classification, referring to the policy instead as a performance objective.
According to Strickland, the seven officers assigned to the Traffic Unit had written almost 50 percent fewer citations in October 2007 than October 2006, which he directly correlated to an increase in traffic accidents during that month.
“If we’re out there doing what we’re suppose to be doing, the wrecks and injuries are much less likely to occur,” said Strickland when addressing the policy change which directly resulted in the transfer of five of the seven officers previously assigned to the Traffic Unit. “All I want them to do is go out there and do what they were hired to do.”
Strickland also emphasized that the 20 citations per shift each officer is required to write includes warnings.
“There are a lot of factors that go into whether a person is given a warning or an actual ticket,” he said.
Yates, in explaining his request for the involvement of the state attorney, said, “I thought it would be good to get the opinion of the highest law official in the state. It (the memo announcing the performance objective) wasn’t written by the chief — it was written by a lieutenant. He (Strickland) just thought that anyone who asked to work with the Traffic Unit shouldn’t be afraid to write a ticket if they needed to. I’m not taking anyone’s side. I can certainly see the chief’s side but I can also understand the concerns of someone who might have gotten a ticket.”